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System becoming unstable....reboots, beeps....

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March 30, 2011 10:53:27 PM

Hi friends,

I've just recently started having some stability issues with my aging system (please see my profile for system specs)

1)In the past week I started receiving a message during POST that system is in safe mode and to check BIOS settings. I loaded the fail safe defaults. Also I changed the cpu fan from smart to always on, I've confirmed that both the cpu and case fan are spinning.

2)Windows XP has been shutting down while I'm not looking.

3)Just today while logged into windows the system began to emit a warning beep. Heat related?

4)Strangely, I mistakenly bumped the case today (I mean, lightly....like a tap) and the computer instantly shut off. Same behavior was reported by my girlfriend.

What does this sound like to you? I have a feeling that the thermal paste between the cpu and heat-sink might not be conducting heat and needs redone. I wanted to ask for a second opinion before I start the work of re-seating everything. Thanks in advance!
March 31, 2011 1:37:45 AM

Great, thx.

Well...

Core #0 is in the 27-42 degree range
Core #1 is in the 36-47 degree range

I have two video cards running, a geforce 6100 as part of the chipset (no temp reading)
and a geforce 6200 in the pci x16 slot which is running at +-60 - 65 degrees. (seems a bit high)

All these temps seem ok to me, but I'm not exactly sure how low they should be.

A new thing....the computer speaker won't stop buzzing, some kind of alarm. ....just turned off after about 5 min.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 31, 2011 1:53:22 AM

Power issues are more often than not, related to a failing PSU. I suggest you check the voltages on the P1 connector. Also worth looking into is the CMOS battery. Like any other battery, this one will lose it's potential over time. Should you need/want to replace it, just go to any store (like Radio Shack, Walmart, etc) that sells batteries and look for a CR2302. Note that there are other styles of batteries with the same shape and size, so make sure you check the numbers on the battery and/or packaging.
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March 31, 2011 4:44:35 PM

I checked the voltages on the P1 connector using the guide here:

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/power-supply-troubleshooting-with-a-multimeter/1056686

Everything seemed to test fine. pin 9 was 5v. Then I tested the yellow wires. they were both reading between 11 and 12 volts.

checked the cmos battery also. a solid 3v. put a fresh one in anyways which also tested at 3v.

So....can I safely rule out the power supply as the main problem? What else could be causing these system freezes and shutdowns?

One more symptom I've noticed after inspecting more closely.....Usually the system will boot fine, then as I browse a web page or something the pointer will become sluggish and then unresponsive and then the system will completely turn off.

Trying to narrow down the diagnosis so I know what parts to replace.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 31, 2011 10:57:11 PM

Good. PSU can be ruled out for now. Download MemTest86+ v4.2 and burn it to cd (make sure you burn it as a disc image).
After successfully burning the MT86+ disc, restart your computer. The test will run automatically.

Also, if you have an HDD utility that has S.M.A.R.T. tests, I suggest you run an extended test, too.
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a c 122 B Homebuilt system
April 1, 2011 8:55:37 AM

T_T said:
Good. PSU can be ruled out for now.

Unfortunately, no, it cannot. All the checks mean is that the PSU was working at the moment that guitonoklops9
(there's 8 others? :) ) checked the PSU.

Recheck the voltages on the main power plug:
Use a DMM to measure the voltages. Measure between the colored wires and either chassis ground or the black wires. Yellow wires should be 12 volts. Red wires: +5 volts, orange wires: +3.3 volts, blue wire : -12 volts, violet wire: 5 volts always on. Tolerances are +/- 5% except for the -12 volts which is +/- 10%. If you have a white wire (many modern PSU's do not), it should be -5 volts.

The gray wire is really important. It should go from 0 to +5 volts when you turn the PSU on with the case switch. CPU needs this signal to boot.

The colors are standard and it is easier to look for colors than it is to count pins.

Although the PC & C PSU was one of the best on the market when you bought it, you can try to borrow a good 500 - 600 watts PSU.

You said the PC shutdown suddenly twice when it was bumped. Monitor the PSU gray wire with the meter. Bump the PC. If the voltage drops from 5 volts to zero, you need a new PSU.

Other suggestions:
unplug and reconnect everything.
Check if the faults happen when you boot into safe mode.

I doubt if the problem is the thermal compound between the CPU and heatsink, but it is a simple and inexpensive matter to replace it. And that will be one more thing you do not need to worry about.
Try removing components until you get down to the minimum booting configuration.
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April 1, 2011 6:58:54 PM

Thanks to cmichael138, T_T and jsc for the help and info! (I've passed the acquired knowledge onto my 8 other friends ;) 

Running Memtest now....so far it's passed through twice with no errors. Also, after reading jsc's post I tapped the computer to see what happened. Then I rocked it back and forth....memtest is still running. Soooo, I'm curious why an application not booting through windows would be solid but windows itself is locking up.

Next onto the HDD SMART tests. I will try SpeedFan unless someone has a better recommendation.

This weekend I will also test my power supply more extensively to see if there is anything else wrong there.
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April 14, 2011 6:16:10 PM

Sorry for the hiatus....things are busy lately and I set my computer repair aside for a week to deal with grad. school.

So...I'm having issues still, trying to run HD Smart tests without a stable OS is frustrating me. I haven't been able to keep windows alive long enough to get things rolling.

In the meantime I've removed all the add-on cards and re-seated the heatsink to the cpu. Could the north bridge or southbridge on the mobo possibly suffering from heat issues? They are both passively cooled.
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April 14, 2011 10:29:43 PM

One other thing....I'm getting an error message on the BIOS screen that says:

"Warning! Now system is in safe mode. Please re-resetting cpu frequency in the CMOS setup"

Resetting BIOS to defaults does not make this go away.

I'm starting to think its time to throw in the towel and replace this system. What worries me is that I am still unable to diagnose which component(s) failed.
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2011 1:11:21 AM

Found this if you want to give it a try:

"How to fix it - the solution to please resetting cpu frequency
1. Head into your BIOS. For me, pressing Delete while I'm booting up does the trick. For you, it's likely that too, but there are other keystrokes that'll do the trick. Try, F1, F2, F12, ESC, or some key combos like CTRL+ALT+ESC or CTRL+ALT+S or CTRL+ALT+INS.
2. Use your arrow keys to maneuver to "Standard CMOS Features" or something similar. Press the "Enter" key.
3. Use the arrows to navigate to "Halt On" and press "Enter"
4. Choose "No Errors" with your arrows and press "Enter"
5. Get out of the BIOS and be sure you save before exiting.
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 16, 2011 12:26:01 AM

Did you end up reapplying the thermal paste between CPU and HSF? If so, double check to ensure that you didn't bend or get thermal paste on any of the pins. Perhaps pull out the CMOS battery, and leaving it out for a couple of minutes, will help reset your CMOS properly.

In regards to the computer shutting down when bumped, another factor is that your mobo could be shorting out when it gets bumped. Do what jsc posted; check the voltage of the gray wire. Using different, known good and working PSU just to be sure may also be helpful.
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May 7, 2011 2:25:46 PM

Thanks guys! I've tried all of the above suggestions to no avail. I've finally thrown in the towel and started putting together a new machine. I think something has gone wrong with the mainboard which was fairly cheap to begin with. I couldn't spend to much more time without my rig for both work and my music. Thanks for helping...

Basically I'm going to keep the most of the hard drives (which are fairly fresh) and the case and replace everything else inside. That should do it...
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 8, 2011 1:47:17 AM

Good luck. Are you getting an Asus or Gigabyte MB? Theu are the best.
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May 8, 2011 4:16:26 AM

cmichael138 said:
Good luck. Are you getting an Asus or Gigabyte MB? Theu are the best.


Going with ASUS, probably p867 series. Time to go sandy bridge.... I did like this Gigabyte board I was using but did have to work around some unique quirks. It was pretty cheap at the time but held out for quite a while. I've had good experience with both gigabyte and asus too.
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!